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K-State Today

June 5, 2015



Thurston-Gonzalez receives national award

By Mary K. Pyle

Sara Thurston-Gonzalez, director of International Student and Scholar Services, received the Homer Higbee Award at the 2015 NAFSA: Association of International Educators Conference May 23-30 in Boston, Massachusetts.

The association is the world's largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange and there are 10,000 members at more than 3,500 institutions in more than 150 countries.

Thurston-Gonzalez received the award for her continued service to the association's membership and her essential contribution to many of the association's programs. She has served as a leader of the Membership Committee and Leadership Development Committee.

Over the past 13 years, Thurston-Gonzalez has presented at the state, regional and national levels in many different areas of the international educational leadership, including federal regulations, third culture kids — the area of her doctoral research and dissertation — and the Fulbright program. Her service on the annual Conference Committee includes poster chair for both the 2013 and 2014 conferences, and she continues conference service as Workshop Chair for this year's Boston conference and Content Chair for the association's 2016 conference in Denver.

Marcelo Sabatés, associate provost of the Office of International Programs, said in his nomination letter, "Sara's commitment and dedication to NAFSA has brought to our campus skills, leadership development and collaborative solutions gleaned from this professional organization. She has certainly elevated K-State's awareness of international student services during her time at K-State. While Sara has made significant contributions to NAFSA, she also has developed an outstanding reputation for innovative programming that leads to international student success."

"I was so honored to receive this award surrounded by so many friends and colleagues," Thurston-Gonzalez said. "Many past recipients have been mentors to me so I am thrilled to be included in this list of Homer Higbee award winners. Working with NAFSA is so enjoyable as it facilitates meeting and collaborating with leaders from all around the world engaging with all areas of international education.

Thurston-Gonzalez's nomination was supported by four additional letters from association colleagues addressing her leadership and commitment. The award is named for Homer D. Higbee, an association life member, former association  president from 1970-71, chair of the Field Service Steering Committee, and on the boards of trustees/directors of numerous professional organizations. This award recognizing his efforts has been presented annually since 1980.

As the director of International Student & Scholar Services, Thurston-Gonzalez oversees operations of international student and scholar advising and immigration document production for more than 2,200 students and 350 scholars on campus and oversees and conducts programming to orientate them to experience a successful campus life.

Read more information about the award.